Wednesday, September 6, 2017

NASCAR Top 10 Power Rankings: Week 25

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Martin Truex, Jr. — Truex won Stages 1 and 2 at Darlington before his attempts to hold off the charging Denny Hamlin failed due to a right-front tire failure. Truex finished 8th.

"I did, however, clinch NASCAR's regular season title," Truex said. "And if I fail to win the Monster Energy Cup championship, it will also be just another 'regular' season."

2. Kyle Busch — Busch finished second at Darlington as Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin took the win.

"The Monster Energy Cup championship trophy weighs 70 pounds," Busch said. "That sure is heavy. But some burdens are worth carrying. Just ask my car owner Joe Gibbs."

3. Denny Hamlin — After missing pit road on lap 315, Hamlin recovered and tracked down Martin Truex, Jr. to take the win in the Bojangles' Southern 500.

"I felt terrible after missing pit road," Hamlin said. "Let me tell you, missing the pits is the pits.

"The No. 11 Toyota was sporting the Sport Clips paint scheme. It was 'Throwback Weekend' at Darlington, but if you would have seen those colors, you would have thought it was 'Throw Up Weekend."

4. Kevin Harvick — Harvick started on the pole at Darlington and piloted the No. 4 Busch Beer Chevrolet to a ninth-place finish.

"As you could see by the car paint schemes," Harvick said, "it was 'Throwback Weekend" at Darlington. Even NASCAR fans got into the theme, wearing clothes that were fashionable 30 years ago. Then again, maybe those fans had no idea it was 'Throwback Weekend.'"

5. Kyle Larson — Larson finished 14th in the Bojangles' Southern 500.

"It was an incredible feat for Denny Hamlin to run down Martin Truex, Jr. like he did to get the win," Larson said. "Especially after making such a boneheaded error when he missed pit lane. I hear Denny is fond of playing basketball; he must be a pretty good 'rebounder.'"

6. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth placed sixth at Darlington as three Joe Gibbs Racing cars finished in the top six.

"The fourth JGR driver is Daniel Suarez," Kenseth said. "We just found out Subway terminated its four-race sponsorship of Daniel because of a pre-race segment in July in which he handed out Dunkin' Donuts to fans. I guess in Subway sponsorship, there are Do's and Don't's, and donuts are a don't."

7. Jimmie Johnson — Johnson finished 12th at Darlington, and hasn't won since taking the checkers at Dover in early June.

"The No. 48 paint scheme was a tribute to the design on the Lowe's trucks in 1986," Johnson said. "As I've said often this year, my car drives like a truck.

"I attended the 'Burning Man' music festival with my wife. I couldn't believe I was actually there. I imagine I said the same thing as a dude who wakes up in a NASCAR infield after a night of partying an questionable hookups: "It's burning, man!"

8. Brad Keselowski — Keselowski finished 15th in the Bojangles' Southern 500.

"The No. 2 Ford was sporting the throwback Miller Genuine Draft paint scheme," Keselowski said. "Most people are used to seeing me in the Miller Lite paint scheme. That's the car that made Rusty Wallace famous, and, in turn, made Ryan Newman angry."

9. Jamie McMurray — McMurray piloted the No. 1 McDonald's Chevrolet to a tenth-place finish at Darlington, posting his

"Thirteen drivers have clinched playoff spots," McMurray said. "Currently, Chase Elliott, myself, and Matt Kenseth hold the final three spots. We three are all hoping for nothing to change as a result of what happens at Richmond, like, some driver way down in the standings taking a surprising win. In other words, if Elliott, Kenseth, and I are pulling for anyone, it's for the 'status quo' to take the win."

10. Clint Bowyer — Bowyer's engine blew 18 laps in at Darlington and he finished 40th.

"I'm in a must-win situation at the final regular season race at Richmond," Bowyer said. "That's call a 'win and you're in' situation, as opposed to a 'spin and Martin Truex, Jr. is in' situation."

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